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Native Corn

It's that time of year again. Any sightings of native corn?

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  1. I usually don't see any *real* native corn until late July/early August...might start getting some from NJ soon though, if not already.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Science Chick

      yeah, unfortunately it's not that time of year again,yet, for native corn, and might be even later this year given the weather. Don't usually see tomatoes until early August, either. The ones that are at the markets now are hothouse. Nothing wrong with that! I saw some heirlooms today at Union square, Kimball Fruit, for $5 a pound. That's the usual price early in the season. Too expensive for me.

    2. None at the Brookline farmers market on Thursday. Because of the cold weather this spring, field crops seem to be running late this year.

      1. I bought corn at Caleresso's in Reading today and asked where they were getting it from. They told me it came from Ga.

        And agree with the others, it will be awhile. My parents always told me it's only "knee high by the fourth of July". So I never expect it to be local for another 3 or 4 weeks.


        1. Much to my surprise, Stillman's FB page says that they had their first corn at today's markets.

          8 Replies
            1. re: Allstonian

              By following the early corn suggestions from UMass's Agricultural Extension service,


              and choosing early varieties local farmers have been able to bring in local sweet corn in early July most years. I wrote a newspaper column on it a couple of years ago.


              1. re: BostonZest

                So that's how they do it. Bless you, Monsanto!

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    Hey no problem. That's why I started researching it. I was wondering how it was done.

                  2. re: BostonZest

                    Great Info! Thanks for the article. I bookmarked it just in case I need to refer to it later.

                  3. re: Allstonian

                    Got a few ears of corn from Stillmans at the West Roxbury market today. I just had an ear and it's not very good. Some of the kernels still had a faint greenish tint and it definitely tasted like it should have stayed on the stalk longer. The rows of kernels had wide spaces between them, and I think they would have filled in had the kernels had a chance to get bigger.

                    1. re: catsmeow

                      Glad I passed when I saw they had it at City Hall on Monday. The ears all looked too skinny to me, but it was the end of the day and I just assumed all the good ones were gone.

                  4. "Knee high by the 4th of July…or so the old saying goes. The old “knee high” adage meant that if your corn reached the height of your knee by Independence Day, your crop was on track and you were expected to have a good year"
                    My local corn farm in CT usually starts selling mid-July

                    1. In West Falmouth on 28A the little roadside cart guy "Native Tom Corn" has some delicious corn (can't say that I know it is truly native, but the sign says it is...)

                      1. Usually the first not too local stuff comes from Western MA, still probably several weeks away. I don't like it as much, when it is trucked in it gets heated up en route and the kernels become tough.

                        1. It's a bit early yet, but there are some farmers in WMa who grow a dwarf variety that tassels out very early. So, maybe soon.

                          1. Way too early for local corn.

                            1. Verrill Farm was selling ears from Delaware today - OK and tasty, but not the same as fresh local by a long shot

                              1. My wife just picked up a couple of ears from Gerry's farm in Brockton. He said he got it from a farm in Bridgewater. We will test tonight!

                                1. 'native corn'? - as in local or heirloom?

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Native usually means grown locally and harvested in season.

                                    1. re: Science Chick

                                      That must be a Boston usage. From 1906 Fannie Farmer cookbook:

                                      "Until native corn appears it is the most unsatisfactory vegetable. Native corn is obtainable the last of July, but is most abundant and cheapest in Auguest. Among the best varieties are Crosby for early corn and Evergreen for late corn."

                                      In 1906 the sweet corn varieties lost their sweetness quickly. Modern varieties are much sweeter, and have a longer window between harvest and consumption.

                                      Google images for 'native corn' are mostly multicolored field corn, also called 'Indian corn'.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I think that using the term "native" to mean "local" is in common parlance these days. And not just in Boston, though I could be wrong.

                                        Anyway, it was clear the OP meant "local" and all the respondents interpreted it that way.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          The great misunderstanding between my Mother and her Mother In Law was native lettuce. This was the term my mother was raised to use. Her mother in law called it Boston lettuce. They never saw eye to eye on this, and so many other matters.

                                          Native is a long-standing Boston-ism.

                                          1. re: smtucker

                                            I grew up in CT in the 60s and that was our common term there as well.

                                          2. re: paulj

                                            Every year the super sweet corn that appears locally beginning in May (in CT) that is shipped form Florida and later Georgia has gotten sweeter and more tender. There used to be a huge difference between this corn and local corn but the quality gap is narrowing. Now if they only could figure out how to ship decent tomatoes.....

                                            1. re: zackly

                                              a big part of the problem with tomatoes is the variety; they are bred for appearance and not for taste.

                                            2. re: paulj

                                              "The specific time when sweet corn originated cannot be pin-pointed; however, sweet corn was grown by the American Indian and first collected by European settlers in the 1770's. The first variety, Papoon, was acquired from the Iroquois Indians in 1779."

                                        2. I just got an email from Calareso's in Reading saying native corn has arrived. Hmmmmm....

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: catsmeow

                                            Yup- got the same email. I will try to stop by tomorrow and take a look.

                                            1. re: macca

                                              I bought an ear there on Thurs when I was there for the Cape Ann Fresh Catch fish distribution. It was large and full, but the flavor was underripe, green. It's too early. I knew this but was hoping to be proven wrong. Glad I only got one ear.

                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                What a difference a week makes! I was at Calareso's again today since I have a gig distributing the Cape Ann Fresh Catch fish shares to subscribers in Reading, at Calareso's. I mentioned that last week's corn was not really ready. They told me last week was the first "local" corn of the season - it's coming from Hadley, MA - and agreed that they'd jumped the gun but assured me today's corn was good. And it sure is! Wish I'd bought more than 3 ears.

                                            2. Utopia farm in Manchester has some from Western Mass per their Facebook page.

                                              1. Idylwilde Farm in Acton had Connecticut corn today. It didn't fit into my dinner plans so I didn't try it, but it looked mature and not underdeveloped.

                                                1. Russo's had "native corn" but after asking a couple of different people I wasn't able to find out the source. One woman said it was probably from Western Mass. but she couldn't be sure.
                                                  The corn looked to be butter and sugar. It was pretty tasty and tender although not super sweet. $3.98/dozen.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: bear

                                                    Union Square today, both Nicewicz farm and the Hmong farmers were back! Nicewitz had corn picked this morning at $.70@. They also had some lovely apricots and blueberries. The Hmongs had a beautiful assortment of herbs and greens along with pumpkin blossoms. Their herbs are the most flavorful.

                                                    We will eat the corn tonight an I will report back.

                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                      I left home as soon as I read your update....thanks for it....and I was too late for blueberries, raspberries, and corn. I did find some sorrel at Kimball fruit and it is great to have the Hmong farmers back. I will have to be much earlier next week.

                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                        It was a very valid example of corn! Didn't taste green. The kernels were developed. The corn will get better before long, but this was a nice start to the corn season.

                                                    2. I spent the weekend in CT and stopped at a roadside farm stand that, over the years, I've frequented several times. They had corn that they said was theirs. I thought it was strange because the fields that I saw as I was driving around still looked like they had at least a few weeks to go. The ears looked good, so I bought a few despite my doubts. I'm in the midst of eating one and it's delicious! "Native" corn is here(or 1 1/2 hrs south of here)!

                                                      1. I got some local corn today at a stand in Leominster (near the old weathervane spot) and it was quite good.

                                                        1. My parents brought some back from Long Island that they claimed was locally grown. Not great... some ears were so starchy and bland they weren't worth eating, but a couple of the ears were on the good side. A taste of things to come!

                                                          1. Barker's Farm in N. Andover has their corn sigh up. That's their own corn fresh picked.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: treb

                                                              Marini's in Ipswich also has their corn sign up, though I haven't gotten over to check it out yet.

                                                            2. Wagon Wheel has their "Native Corn" sign up. Stopped by to look....it's from CT

                                                              1. Stillman's was selling it at Lexington Farmer's Market, and it's theirs. The flavor was great, nice and sweet, but the texture wasn't fantastic, a bit on the mushy side.

                                                                1. Saw some at the Harvard farmer's market yesterday, two farms had it

                                                                  1. I'm sure this farm is selling local corn.
                                                                    I sometimes make the 20 minute drive just to get this corn. they pick it several times a day. It is always very sweet & tender.

                                                                    1. Mainstone Farm in Wayland started picking theirs yesterday. Had some tonight. Delicious!

                                                                      1. Bought some today at the Charles Hotel market.....very disappointing. Very starchy, didn't taste like corn at all.

                                                                        no more early corn for me. we only got 2 ears and ending up throwing most of it out. I wish they wouldn't feel pressured to pick it before it's ready.

                                                                        1. Lattof Farm Stand RTE 127 Rockport. Their corn 65 cents a piece. Developed cobs , good sized kernels, sweet and toothsome..and this is just the beginning ! Got 6 all perfect.

                                                                          1. I got some today again, very sweet, tender kernels that pop in your mouth. From Harpers Farm in Lancaster. http://www.harpersfarm.com/default.html

                                                                            1. Ate some of Verril's very first corn of the year. Still a bit young, but VERY tasty.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                Had some today. Hit or miss on 6 ears...most sweet 1 or two not that sweet. I still ate them. :)

                                                                              2. Here's a strange one. I've now twice bought corn from Stew Leonard's in Norwalk CT. It is advertised as local corn and the corn sacks do have a name on them of a farm on Long island, NY. The corn looked beautiful inside and out and freshly harvested with tight moist husks and golden silk. When I cooked it, it wasn't sweet. I steamed it once and roasted it the second time. Could this be because it is a early season variety? The ears were fairly large.

                                                                                24 Replies
                                                                                1. re: zackly

                                                                                  I am rarely disappointed and here's why:
                                                                                  Whenever I buy corn, I pull back the top of the husk enough to see the top of the ear, and press on a kernel until it pops. If it sprays (i.e. the kernels were very plump), it's a good read on freshness. Then I taste the juice from the pop. If it is reasonably sweet, I buy (and then others from the same lot...I don't do this to every ear!). If either 1) it doesn't spray when popped or 2) it isn't sweet, then I don't buy it. I replace the ear on the pile so it is obvious that it was messed with, so no one else will buy that ear. Works great....rarely get flavorless corn with this test.

                                                                                  1. re: Science Chick

                                                                                    I do this same test with supermarket corn (tasting for sweetness) because that corn has been in the cold chain for many days. I was remiss not doing it on this local corn because it looked so beautiful. Shame on me, I won't make that mistake again!

                                                                                    1. re: zackly

                                                                                      I do it at farms too....just cause it's fresh, doesn't mean it tastes good! ;)

                                                                                      1. re: Science Chick

                                                                                        I learned that lesson this weekend!

                                                                                        1. re: zackly

                                                                                          Always disappointing to be excited for corn-time and then have it suck wind!! :(

                                                                                    2. re: Science Chick

                                                                                      When you ruin an ear of corn you should buy it some folks actually sit there and rip through an entire pile keeping some and discarding others not fair to the farm not fair to the supermarket.

                                                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                        i agree. I dont even peel the corn back. I will look at one someone else has already peeled and left and then grab 6 that are not yet opened/ruined by others. If i get a few small kernels at the end or a bug or brown or something i just cut that portion off before cooking.. I am really not too worried about 1/10th of a 50 cent ear of corn. I figure there is corn for sale and i am either going to buy it or not, i am not going to drive around looking for the best corn.

                                                                                        1. re: hargau

                                                                                          I'm with Science Chick on this one.
                                                                                          I don't consider stripping back corn or sampling a kernel to taste for sweetness improper. It's a good shopping practice and the cost of doing business that sellers build into the price as they do waste corn that does not sell in a day or two. Just like when a bag of grapes or cherries is left open in the bin I sample one without guilt because if they're good, they've sold me.

                                                                                          1. re: zackly

                                                                                            I guess everyone is different.. I also dont sample ice cream flavors even though places offer them.. I feel if something sounds interesting enough to try its worth the risk of $3.50 to try it. If i dont like it, i dont get it again.. At least that doesnt ruin a product for others though.. Even though i dont peel back corn, i also dont buy the ones people abandon as they tend to dry out quick once stripped... Yet when i look at them 9 out of 10 times i cant even tell why someone peeled it back and abandoned it in the 1st place. I think some people only want ones that have fully developed kernels all the way to the very tip.. I dont mind 3/4" of undeveloped kernels

                                                                                            1. re: hargau

                                                                                              I guess I feel differently about being disappointed by a dish of ice cream, and having my dinner ruined by bad corn. As a vegetarian, sometimes summer meals revolve around corn!

                                                                                        2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                          I was waiting for backlash on this one..... :0

                                                                                          Striper...I do not rip through an entire pile! I just test one ear in a given lot. My philosophy is that if a market is carrying old corn, that is their responsibility. If there is a brown spot or worm, I still buy it and cut off the end at home.

                                                                                          Should I buy a bruised peach if I've picked it up and looked at it? What about fish that I smell before buying and is not fresh enough for me? Julia Child used to recommend when buy pre-packed fish (on styrofoam trays/plastic wrap) poking a hole in the plastic and smelling. If not fresh, leave it and it is the store's responsibility!

                                                                                          1. re: Science Chick

                                                                                            She was probably drunk when she said that! :)
                                                                                            Who would buy prepackaged fish anyway?
                                                                                            picking up a peach doesnt ruin it for others.

                                                                                            1. re: hargau

                                                                                              On a larger, more global scale. One persons unacceptable is fine for another. I think this is part of why our food is full of artificial dyes/additives/gmo/waxes/etc to give a perception of better appearance/higher quality. While you maybe ok with a worm or a brown kernel or undeveloped ones on the end, there are plenty who are NOT ok with those things and will peel back and leave corn otherwise fine for you or me to waste now. Thus encouraging the farmer next year to use more crap to make the corn look better without those "defects" and to get higher yields.. ( i think this is also why many on here will complain about produce "quality" at many ethnic markets as i think they perhaps have a different standard)

                                                                                              I think having owned and worked in retail all my life i am more sensitive to what is the "stores problem"... Like some feel its the stores problem if they are in the cereal aisle and decide they no longer want their pack of fish or hamburger they picked and then leave it next to the fruit loops. Store problem, why they have employees.. i see it all the time..

                                                                                              1. re: hargau

                                                                                                There are those that espouse that once you touch something with your bare hands you should buy it (not me, though!!)!

                                                                                                1. re: Science Chick

                                                                                                  ohh i have not heard of that one. I figure you should wash it anyway!

                                                                                            2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                              I just stopped at my local farm stand to get some corn for dinner. They were charging 50¢ an ear for unripped and 75¢ an ear for ripped. Problem solved.

                                                                                              1. re: skippy66

                                                                                                If you go the cheaper route, and have never tried nuking as is (maybe 2-3 min an ear, 7 min if you arrange 3 in a triangle), go for it. Once cool enough to handle, the husk and silks come entirely off in 1-2 rips. Or cut off the stem end and pull the coooked ear out of the husk. This way of cooking imparts additional fresh corn flavor from the husk, and avoids heating/steaming up the kitchen if you normally cook them in water.

                                                                                                I shake my head when I see people shucking corn before buying it but people are set in their ways.
                                                                                                I'm always tempted to say, "Enjoy your dried-out corn!"

                                                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                  Last year I was really disappointed. All of the corn I got, even at the farmer's markets, was very starchy. The corn I got a few weeks ago in CT was the best. I've had in a while.
                                                                                                  I've been nuking corn for years. I use a paper towel to hold the hot corn while I cut the stem end off which makes the husk come off easily.

                                                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                    Well, except that so much corn these days is supersweet, and converts to starch relatively slowly.

                                                                                                    The easiest way to cook corn is to steam it. Absolutely no need to boil a huge pot of water. And it's more even than in the m-wave.

                                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                      that's interesting karl. if we're not grilling, we always nuke it(after removing the leaves and silk) and have never noticed any uneven spots.

                                                                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                        I only remove a few of the outer leaves and nuke it with the leaves and silk intact. I've never noticed any uneven spots either. I do turn it halfway after a minute or so.

                                                                                                  2. re: skippy66

                                                                                                    I actually don't want to rip my corn at the store....I like it to stay intact until right before I cook it. I see people doing this at the store and I really don't get it.

                                                                                                    1. re: Science Chick

                                                                                                      me either - if the corn is firm and good size I take a chance ... never been disappointed yet

                                                                                            3. Just had my first ear from WIlson's, and it was a treat.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: fantundo

                                                                                                We had Wilson Farm's corn last night. I had two ears... one was perfect: small, snappy, sweet kernels. The other had big, mushy, sweet kernels.

                                                                                              2. Just got a few ears of Marini Farm Corn via Utopia Farm stand, excellent! Very sweet and juicy, not starchy at all.

                                                                                                1. Here's a reply to an email complaint that I sent to a local supermarket complaining about corn I bought there that wasn't sweet:

                                                                                                  The corn that we had around that time was from a local grower. We are using growers from either CT or NJ. The problem with the corn is that the weather has remained too cold and is not allowing the corn to grow fast enough to meet the demand. This is affecting the sweetness due to the fact that the corn is being picked at a faster rate and the crops are being rushed. This is an issue affecting all local sources.

                                                                                                  My first thought was "if the corn is sub par why are you selling it?"

                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: zackly

                                                                                                    Because more customers will be angry that they are not carrying any (there being a limited supply of quality corn that, if it were priced to demand, would probably be quite expensive).

                                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                      If the product is lousy, don't sell it. Give it to the livestock. I have an expectation of quality that if not reasonably met, I'm returning the product to the store for credit. I know I'm jousting @ windmills at this point but if more people started sending grocers the same message, maybe we'd see better produce.

                                                                                                      1. re: zackly

                                                                                                        I doubt it. Do return stuff that you find subpar (don't eat it and then complain, though). Don't expect it will change supermarket chain behavior, which involves far vaster supply/demand chain pressure points. Smaller chains and independents are more likely to feel some pressure. Even so, look at how long Market Basket has gone on with >70% declines in business from a customer boycott.

                                                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                          You build a wall one brick at a time. Come join the revolution! Just say no to crappy produce. When it makes economic sense to do so, maybe suppliers will figure out a better way.

                                                                                                          1. re: zackly

                                                                                                            I think sweetness is subjective. There are threads on here complaining about corn being "too sweet" which to me isnt possible. Just like spicy.. I have friends who cant tolerate salt/pepper on food as it is "too spicy" a drop of sriacha sauce the size of a ball point pen tip would literally put them in the hospital from spice..

                                                                                                            I think most likely what will happen is the 16 year old at the service desk will give you your $3 back and toss the used corn in the trash.. Nothing more will come of that. They likely sold 1000 ears of corn that week.

                                                                                                            1. re: hargau

                                                                                                              Not @ my supermarket. The produce manager knows me well by now. When he sees me he greets me warmly and makes suggestions as to what's good. He's an empathetic ally.

                                                                                                    2. re: zackly

                                                                                                      I have been getting the Harpers Farm corn every sunday and it has always been great. I also had some last week from Wilkins Stand in Pepperell, also excellent.

                                                                                                    3. For the last two weeks we've been getting corn from Dick's Market Garden at the Melrose FM and it has been outstanding. Not too sweet with that lovely corn flavor we love. The kernels were not those big and bulgy kernels but smaller and quite tasty. I believe Dick's is at other FMs throughout the Greater Boston area.